SSH Agent Automation

On Linux systems many of us administrators and engineers have our favorite profiles and configuration file settings. One of the most used tools and a must for securing an environment is secure shell or ssh. Secure shell uses asymmetric encryption which is a public key and private key pair of keys; one used for encryption and the other for decryption. Open SSH allows for several different algorithms such as DES or RSA. The public encryption key may then be shared to other systems in the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file indicating that a system having the correct key information may be allowed to ssh directly into a system using only the public key challenge. Further the public and private key pair may be associated with a passphrase requiring such to be entered before the asymmetric key pair may be used for authentication.

Many DevOps Infrastructure as Code tools and other management tools and even home grown scripts may use ssh to manage through inquiry and remote execution multiple systems in an environment. The ssh passphrase requirement may get in the way of such automation and cause such batch processes to fail. The ssh-agent was created to resolve this limitation by registering passphrases and keys so that subsequent ssh sessions would not be prompted for passphrases. The script below may be added to a .bashrc or .kshrc user profile to instantiate a ssh-agent which may be used by subsequent session. It createa a link to the ssh-agent special file as ~/.ssh/ssh_auth_sock and updates the SSH_AUTH_SOCK environment variable to point to this link. This then allows sessions going forward to piggyback off the initial ssh-agent instantiation. This may also be used with scheduled jobs.

## Check if the agent is accessible and if not remove socket file and kill agents
export SSH_AUTH_SOCK=~/.ssh/ssh_auth_sock
ssh-add -l >/dev/null 2>&1 ; RT=$?
if [ -h ~/.ssh/ssh_auth_sock -a ${RT} -gt 0 ]; then 
	echo "SSH Agent is dead ${RT}; removing socket link file and killing hung ssh agent!"
	rm -f ~/.ssh/ssh_auth_sock 
	pkill -u $(whoami) -i ssh-agent 
## if the auth socket does not exist start the agent and recreate the auth socket link
if [ ! -h ~/.ssh/ssh_auth_sock ]; then
	echo "Ssh agent socket link does not exist; starting new agent!"
	eval `ssh-agent`
	ln -sf "$SSH_AUTH_SOCK" ~/.ssh/ssh_auth_sock
export SSH_AUTH_SOCK=~/.ssh/ssh_auth_sock
ssh-add -l > /dev/null 2>&1 || ssh-add

About Last Fiddle
I have always had many interests; technology, science, philosophy, theology, politics, history, etc... Currently, life for the past twelve years has placed me in the area of technology fulfilling roles in System Administration and Architecture. But I have always been involved in the local church and enjoy researching and discussing issues of theology, philosophy, history and politics...

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